Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2012 books

As I did, for 2011, I'm posting a list of books read/listened to in 2012.  Reasonably good year.  Couple of groaners that I felt obligated to finish, in spite of my better judgment.
* = Recommended
X = Stay away! - No absolute musts, this year, so I've indicated groaners with an "Oy"
  • Mike and Psmith: P. G. Wodehouse (I'm tempted to put this as a *, but it's such fluff :-))
  • An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge: Ambrose Bierce
  • Death of Ivan Ilych: Leo Tolstoy
  • * The Greatest Show on Earth (audiobook, narrated by the man, himself): Richard Dawkins (I'm putting this as a * -- it's pretty accessible, but at times it gets a little technical -- stick with it, though.) I think I still prefer Sapolsky for writing style, and coverage of a lot of the same kinds of concepts.
  • Persuasion: Jane Austen (what would a reading year be without an Austen?)
  • The Life of Pi (audiobook): Yann Martel - didn't get it - can someone please explain it to me?
  • Mansfield Park: Jane Austen (Mostly because I saw the 1999 movie and was like...really??? She didn't write that...did she?)
  • * Last Man in Tower (audiobook): Arvind Adiga
  • * Plugged (audiobook): Eoin Colfer - may not be for everyone...a bit heavy on the violence, but darkly charming
  • Nation (audiobook): Terry Pratchett
  • The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (audiobook): David Mitchell
  • The Complete Stories of Dorothy Parker (audiobook):  Dorothy Parker
  • Wives and Daughters:  Elizabeth Gaskell (This was a re-read, mostly because I discovered the lovely BBC miniseries based on it, by Andrew Davies, the same screenwriter as did my very favorite Pride and Prejudice production - it's almost as good, though nothing can ever compare, really.)
  • Between the Assassinations (audiobook): Aravind Adiga
  • Next (audiobook):  Michael Crichton - Oy...
  • Fairest (audiobook):  Gail Carson Levine - think I liked Ella Enchanted better, but this was good, too.
  • Mrs. Dalloway (audiobook): Virginia Woolf - very strange, though I enjoyed it - never really saw a woman writing stream of consciousness like that
  • Return of the Native (audiobook):  Thomas Hardy
  • Daniel Deronda:  Mary Ann Evans (aka George Eliot) - kind of Oy
  • Pillars of the Earth (audiobook):  Ken Follett - Oy...but now I'm really, really comfortable with the difference between a transept and a chancel and a nave.  Also clerestory.
  • Psmith in the City:  P. G. Wodehouse
  • Hard Times (audiobook):  Charles Dickens - Oy
  • The Girl Who Played With Fire (audiobook):  Stieg Larsson - bit of a disappointment...I loved the other two, and it was a mistake to read them out of order, but honestly, I think this one could probably be dropped completely or have at least 30% excised.  Still hoping to meet this Blomqvist guy.
  • * The Kitchen God's Wife:  Amy Tan (inspired by Annapurna, who read it for an English project) It is a testament to how much I enjoyed the story that I was willing to read it on paper.  Helped that I had an upstairs copy and a downstairs one, courtesy of a donation of a spare copy from my mother :-)
  • * The Time Traveler's Wife (audiobook)Audrey Niffenegger - I'm putting this as a *, but it's kind of chick lit, though writers will find it an interesting study, as well - lot of structural and point of view technical challenges handled nicely here.  Actually, I'm not done with it yet, but I'm close enough that I'll claim victory.
  • Fixing my Gaze: Susan R. Barry
  • Moby Dick: Herman Melville
  • Little Brother: Cory Doctorow
  • Assorted essays from The Best American Science and Nature Writing (2011 edition) -- some quite good.
  • Interpreter of Maladies:  Jhumpa Lahiri  (inspired by Annapurna, who read it for English class)
  • Broken Ballots:  Will Your Vote Count:  Douglas W. Jones and Barbara Simons
  • Harry Potter 4 - with Annapurna and Sidharta - parts
  • The Great Gatsby: F. Scott Fitzgerald (inspired by Annapurna, who read it for English class)
  • Moll Flanders:  Daniel Defoe - still working on it
  • Rakshasa's Ring:  Visakhadatta - still working on it - I read it years ago and loved about royal's like Philippa Gregory on steroids
And with Sidharta:
  • Heidi: Johanna Spyri -- surprisingly, he really enjoyed it, though he got bored and abandoned it after 80%
  • Lots of Calvin and Hobbes, as always
  • Lots of his 1000 page tome on Mammals (aka The Princeton Encyclopedia of Mammals which I got a couple of years ago in a lucky purchase on sale for $20 on one of the outdoors tables at Labyrinth.  It normally goes for about $40...ask me why I know that :-)
  • Lots of Asterix
  • Children's abridged version of Time Machine: H.G. Wells -- he wanted to read it a second time after we finished it - he had read parts of it himself, and wanted to hear it again
  • Some Grimm's Fairy Tales and Yellow Fairy Book
  • Son of Neptune:  Rick Riordan (parts - he read most, himself)
  • The Hobbit:  J.R.R. Tolkien (part - I think the language got a little highfalutin for him)
  • * Robin Hood: (As retold by Roger Lancelyn Green) - one of my all time favorite children's books
And a good chunk of Harry Potter 4 with Annapurna and Sidharta.

And I feel I also deserve credit for having read a couple of additional 1000 page novels by virtue of having watched the Forsyte Saga (seasons 1 and 2), Downton Abbey (seasons 1 and 2) and the Wives and Daughters series :-)  Also a couple of excellent Coursera classes (especially Alex Halderman's Securing Digital Democracy)

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